The Catholic community in Ingleby Barwick are preparing for the official opening of their new church, 22 years after the parish was founded.
The Bishop of Middlesbrough, the Right Reverend Terence Patrick Drainey, will dedicate the church to St Thérèse of Lisieux on Tuesday May 3 at 7pm.
Services have been held in a school and other venues since 1994 and parish priest Canon Pat Hartnett says the new church is the culmination of much hard work and prayer.
“It’s been a very long road but we’re absolutely delighted to have our own purpose-built church at last,” he said.
“We’ve had wonderful support from the school and other venues over the years but it’s great to be able to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments in a church of our own.
“So much hard work has gone into the project from so many people, including our parishioners, the diocese, architects and builders.
“It really has been worth the wait now we have such a beautiful building that will enhance our worship and enable us to build on the thriving community we already have in our parish.
“We’re also looking forward to sharing our facilities with the whole community.”
Bishop Drainey added: “I’m very much looking forward to joining Canon Pat for what will be a day of celebration both for me as bishop and for all the parishioners.
“It’s been a real team effort and everyone involved can be proud of their part in helping create a really special place of worship that will serve the people of Ingleby Barwick for many years to come.”
The Diocese of Middlesbrough has loaned the parish the money for the construction of the building, social space, altar and lectern, while fundraising and donations by parishioners have paid for the fittings and furniture.
Standing on the junction of Blair Avenue and Lamb Lane, the 250-seater church includes a bright area for worship and space for parish celebrations, plus areas for meetings and children’s liturgy.
The brick, stone and slate design incorporates a large number of windows, providing a light-filled interior. Stained glass panels, created by acclaimed artist Alfred Fisher MBE, who has designed windows for Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, are also featured.
The panels, which date from the 1960s, were reclaimed from the site of St John of God Chapel during the hotel and golf course development project at Rockliffe Hall, beside Middlesbrough Football Club’s Darlington training HQ. After using some of the panels as a backdrop to the hotel spa, the remaining panels were donated to the diocese to be incorporated into the new church.
The church was designed by award-winning North East architects Naru and Ross.
“Our brief was to create a bright and beautiful place of worship that will benefit the parish of St Thérèse of Lisieux, whilst ensuring the new facilities are also suitable for use by local schools, charities and groups from the wider community of Ingleby Barwick,” said Naru and Ross director Carl Ross.
“Despite creating a contemporary space, complete with today’s modern comforts and technology, we’re delighted to have preserved a piece of ecclesiastical history by incorporating these special windows into our design.”